Langley Township council plans to add 15 more RCMP officers and 10 more bylaw officers during the next several years, though the potential cost caused some debate.
In two motions on Monday, Jan. 30, the Township council considered bolstering public security.
The motion by Councillor Barb Martens on RCMP officers calls for 15 new officers, with five added this year, two each over the next three years, and four in 2027, to start work on July 1.
In addition, Martens’ motion called for upgrades to the Langley RCMP detachment headquarters in Murrayville, including security upgrades such as perimetre fencing and gates, exterior cameras, and lights.
It also calls for an expanded and upgraded fitness facility for the RCMP officers.
Another motion by Martens and Mayor Eric Woodward calls for 10 more bylaw officers, with three more hired this year, three next year, and two each in 2025 and 2026.
Both motions were approved, with Coun. Kim Richter opposed.
“Never before have we made decisions that cost like this without a business case supporting it,” Richter said.
She noted the previous decision to add 44 new firefighters to the Township’s roster over the coming years, and questioned how the Township will pay for it.
An RCMP officer, including salary, gear, and other costs means a $200,000 expense for the Township, while a bylaw officer costs the Township about $100,000.
Richter estimated all the new public safety hiring will cost about $8.4 million a year.
Coun. Margaret Kunst voted in favour of both motions, but also raised questions about what the council might have to cut to afford the new spending.
“When are we going to have that discussion about what’s the priority?” she asked.
Martens and Woodward both pointed to the rapid growth of Langley Township, which has added thousands of residents a year for the last several years.
“This is to catch up and keep up with the growth of the community,” said Martens.
Woodward said he could not in good conscience do nothing by way of expanding public safety as the Township’s population boomed.
He also noted that the cost will not be added all at once, but over several years, to a community that has been growing at a rate of two to three per cent a year.
The extra security measures and the expanded gym for RCMP officers was also discussed. Martens and Coun. Tim Baillie both emphasized that the lack of fencing and security around the RCMP parking area was unusual and put both civilian staff leaving at night, as well as parked RCMP vehicles, at risk.
Baillie also defended the need for a better gym for RCMP officers, calling the current space small, windowless and dark, “and it is depressing as hell.”
The increases in both RCMP and bylaw officers are to be included in the five-year financial plan for the Township. The council is currently going through its annual budget process to finalize the plan, and is aiming for a four per cent or less tax increase for this year.
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